Cliff Lee hasn’t pitched in a major league game since May 18, but the Philadelphia Phillies left-hander could be a pivotal piece of someone’s playoff push.
Lee isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break with an elbow injury, but ESPN.com reports the Phillies are expected to shop the veteran pitcher. Other clubs told ESPN.com that the Phillies will be aggressive in an attempt to move Lee before the July 31 trade deadline.
One thing that could complicate any potential move is Lee’s contract. The 35-year-old is still owed $50 million through the 2015 season, and he has a vesting option for 2016 that could add even more money to the deal. Unless the Phillies are willing to eat some of the salary, it might be difficult for a lot of teams to eat that much money for a recently injured pitcher nearing the end of his career.
Lee, who is expected to be back on July 19, was effective in the 10 starts he made this season before hitting the disabled list. Lee averaged almost seven innings per start, posting a 3.18 ERA while striking out 61 batters to just nine walks.
Prior to this season, Lee had logged at least 200 innings in his last six seasons. He finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 2013 after going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk average led the league.